By John Harris
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Cornerback Bryant McFadden was the Steelers' second-round draft pick in 2005. McFadden is entering the final year of his contract and has retained the one and only Drew Rosenhaus to broker a new deal.
Be afraid Steelers fans, be very afraid.
McFadden's agent change is one of the most important developments facing the Steelers this offseason.
Rosenhaus is a squeaky wheel among NFL agents. He has a track record for bringing attention to himself and securing big money for his clients.
What does McFadden's hiring Rosenhaus have to do with the Steelers? Well, McFadden's signability could impact how the Steelers approach next month's draft.
If the Steelers plan to re-sign McFadden prior to the start of next season, they won't be forced to select a cornerback early in the draft.
If, on the other hand, the Steelers don't plan to re-sign McFadden before the start of next season -- remember, the club traditionally doesn't negotiate in season -- expect them to draft a cornerback relatively early, perhaps on the first day.
Among current Steelers cornerbacks, Ike Taylor, a fourth-round draft pick in 2003, is signed through 2010. Deshea Townsend, the other starting corner, is signed through 2009, when he will be 34.
The other corners include William Gay, a fifth-round pick last year, and Anthony Madison, who signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2006.
Ricardo Colclough, the team's second-round pick in 2004, was released last season, creating a vacancy at corner.
Changing agents is all well and good, but not even Rosenhaus can make the Steelers budge if the team doesn't believe that McFadden can beat out Townsend, who was a fourth-round pick in 1998.
McFadden was taken in the second round for a reason. The Steelers reward their players financially for their performance. They drafted McFadden believing he would become a starter.
The only players the Steelers pay on potential are their draft picks.
McFadden has appeared in 41 regular-season games with 10 starts. He has five career interceptions, including a 50-yard return for a touchdown against San Francisco last season.
McFadden's biggest problem in 2007 was not staying on the field. He missed three games because of a high ankle sprain, allowing Gay to receive valuable playing time at nickel back.
Hiring a new agent is one way for McFadden to get the new contract he's seeking. The best way is for McFadden to become the Steelers' starting right corner in 2008.